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Cinnamon Bazaar, a hot new haunt in Covent Garden

The menu is a masterpiece at new Covent Garden restaurant that’s unafraid to mix it up

23 February, 2017 — By Tom Moggach

Cinnamon Bazaar in Maiden Lane. Photo: Claire Menary Photography

WHY haven’t you finished your pudding?” I asked the couple at the next table as they settled their bill.

They look startled. But the reason for this waste soon became clear: it’s impossible not to get carried away at Cinnamon Bazaar, a new restaurant in Covent Garden.

The menu is a masterpiece – page after page of temptation. It’s further proof that this art form is all too often underrated.

Grilled aubergine is dusted with a “sesame peanut crumble”. Paratha breads are “magical with Marmite” in a breakfast of kedgeree or khadhai mushrooms on sourdough.

The cocktail menu, too, is a good enough to eat. The Bazaar Old Fashioned mixes coconut-washed Indian Scotch with coconut sugar; their coke float fizzes with masala spices.

This is a restaurant unafraid to mix it up. Even the shepherd’s pie is made with lamb roganjosh.

Cinnamon Bazaar aims to evoke the spirit of the Spice Route bazaar or market, a mingling of influences stretching from the Middle East to Afghanistan.

This stylish, all-day eatery is the latest venture from chef Vivek Singh, who runs a handful of swanky Indian restaurants across town. Cinnamon Bazaar, in Maiden Lane, is a more informal affair.

The dining room is done up with exotic flair. Swathes of fabric swoosh across the high ceilings. Gigantic hanging baskets dangle their plant tendrils below. A parade of multicolored teapots adorns the top of the bar.

Narrowing down our order was a struggle. We forfeited the cracked black pepper fried shrimp with curry leaf, and the tandoori Kentish lamb fillet with mint chilli korma.

Best of our starters was the Papdi Chaat, a zingy street food snack of crisp fried wheat discs and chickpea vermicelli brought to life with spice and tart tamarind swirled through cooling yoghurt.

More experimental was a fiery dish of cubed watermelon, pressed first to squeeze out some water, then mixed with amaranth seeds, date chutney, chilli and roasted cashew nuts.

For the main course, “º” was a new ingredient for me. Our waiter couldn’t explain it, but a quick Google revealed it’s a fruit often used to add a sour note to seafood curries – in this case a divine haddock curry inspired by the boatmen of Malabar.

If you eat meat, try the ox cheek vindaloo: chunks of tender, yielding flesh in a fiery sauce, served with a clever side of pickled veg to take the edge off the heat.

The publicity notes for Cinnamon Bazaar include a line that still haunts me. For millennia, they explain, street markets were how people met, talked and interacted in the age before social media.

I turned off my smartphone for the rest of the meal. And we walked home clutching a doggy bag of all the food we couldn’t finish.

Lunch or dinner at Cinnamon Bazaar will cost around £15-£30 per head before drinks and service, depending on your level of greed.

Cinnamon Bazaar
28 Maiden Lane, WC2E
020 7240 7400

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